ECpE Seminar Series with Rebecca McGill: Full Control Authority for Flapping-Wing Micro-Aerial Vehicles

Date(s) - 11 Feb 2022
9:50 AM - 11:30 AM


Headshot photo of Rebecca McGillSpeaker: Rebecca McGill, Ph.D. Candidate in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University

Title: Full Control Authority for Flapping-Wing Micro-Aerial Vehicles

Abstract: Bio-inspired flight at the insect scale encourages aspirations of unmatched speed and agility.  However, flapping-wing micro-aerial vehicles are subject to unique challenges in control, including constraints in computation, sensing, and actuation; extreme disturbances relative to the vehicles’ small size; and modeling complexity of the underactuated flapping-wing system.  I introduce control and modeling strategies tailored to the unique qualities of flapping-wing flight, applying these methods in flight with the Harvard RoboBee, an 86 mg flapping-wing micro-aerial vehicle, with dramatic improvements to vehicle characterization and performance.  Through this work, the RoboBee achieves full control authority for the first time, opening the door to aggressive maneuvers, full sensor utility, and robust flight; anticipating applications beyond the lab and within unconstrained, natural environments.

Bio: Rebecca McGill is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University, where her research focuses on morphology-informed control of highly dynamicbio-inspired systems. She received her B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering in 2017, and her M.S. degree in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University in 2019. She has been supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program for her work in modeling and control of micro-aerial vehicles with the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory.

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